Working on a piece for Contributoria about the role Biofuels might play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and just discovered they’ve accepted another proposal about escaping from Google’s clutches.
My piece on setting up my ownCloud was published by MicroMart last week. I guess most paying customers have seen it already, so for the rest of you, here it is.
SSL certificates being expensive I discovered that my web host offers a ‘shared SSL’ system. Basically the hosting company pays for secure site on https, sets up pages for it’s customers, then forwards to the customer’s page.
So I got a secure link to my ownCloud free. Setting up was fairly simple, but then I’m a bit of a geek who enjoys fiddling around with anything techie, if you’re not, then stick with Dropbox or similar.
ownCloud has Contacts and Calendar apps that now sync with my (Kubuntu) desktop and Android phone and Tab. The calendar even syncs with my wife’s iPad so she can tell me what I’m doing.
There’s a ‘Docs’ app too that so far only allows you to edit .odt files, which is fine for me because I use LibreOffice on the desktop, but might bug MS users. There are plans to add other ODF formats such as spreadsheets and presentations in due course, and being open source there is a completely open API for developers to create their own apps.
‘The Cloud’ has been the hot new thing for a few years now, the average home user or small business probably has no idea what this means, but if you use for example Dropbox to sync files across several devices, or send large files to other people, then you’re using ‘The Cloud’. Likewise photo sharing sites and off site backup systems. Earlier this month (Dec 2013) IT security expert Graham Cluely blogged:
“Replacing all instances of the word “cloud” with “somebody else’s computer” might make organisations stop and think about the security implications of cloud computing.”
Certainly made me think. And being interested in free open source software I went searching for a ‘cloud’ I could keep under my control. There are several options:
1. Keep all your data on your own machine(s) on your own property (or properties). That is a different kind of risk, I have several machines, but they are all on the same property so a disaster could easily wipe out the lot.
2. Enter into an agreement with a friend to provide each other with off-site backup facility. It’s feasible but PCs on ADSL don’t make great servers, and you have to trust your friend to run a tight ship and not muck about with your data. It would to difficult to use for synchronizing mobile devices.
3. Use space provided by a webhost company. Of course we’re back to trusting “somebody else’s computer” but at least it’s a server you control.
So option 3 it is then. I already have a domain (this one) hosted by Perfect Hosts so I created a sub-domain on it and install OwnCloud, free open source cloud software. In addition to off site storage OwnCloud has the ability to sync calendars, photos and other data across all your devices.
Installation is a breeze, but then I got stopped in my tracks because to keep things secure OwnCloud expects your webserver to offer https (with an ‘s’ for security on the end) and that relies on you having an SSL certificate, which is expensive. Fortunately Perfect Hosts offer the use of a shared certificate free of charge, but it’s Christmas and it’s a small company so I’ll have to wait. More later…
I don’t blog here very often because to be honest I prefer to write for money. However I’ve recently been employed as a ‘ghost blogger’ by a PR company writing a techie blog for the marketing manager of an IT company who’s too busy to write his own. The downside is it goes out with his name on, so not ideal for the portfolio. If you’re an editor, PR or hard-pressed marketing manager looking for a tech blogger, contact me and I’ll give you details privately.
Two new commissions today for 24th Sept:
1. Sustainability – NTA 8080 certification system recognised by the European Commission, one of the few recognised schemes, along with the ISCC, that is not only applicable to biofuels, but also to solid and gaseous biomass. 2500 words.
2. Aviation fuels from biomass -a general look at the role biomass will play in creating renewable jet fuels. 2000 words.
Better start the background reading then…
I’m updating my website, new theme, some new pages, some old ones deleted, some edited. Just noticed my last blog post was 10 months ago. I should do more. But they’re funny things blogs. Some are just vanity, some commercial ones are just banal, some are just designed to attract clicks and win a few pence in advertising revenue. I try not to be vain, or banal and I don’t have adverts on my website because it is there to advertise me, I don’t want potential customers being distracted.
Once you take out the vain, “I’ve just been approached by a major online agency to edit their new site”, the banal, “I’m hoping the window fitters will call soon about making good around the new windows” that doesn’t leave a lot to write about. But I will. Probably.
Timeline from The Inquirer
I just had a call from a helpful guy claiming to be from Microsoft wanting to fix my computer…BrokenWindowsCall
Insanely gratifying to see a favourable review of my garden projects book!